Stay Calm and Keep Growing

9-15-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

You know, it was just about a month ago that my timeline was filed to the brim with proposed lineups that had Hoy Jun Park as an absolute lock to start at second base and bat leadoff. A week or so later it was Michael Chavis and Hoy suddenly was in trouble for a 40-man spot.

Three months ago JT Brubaker was a lock in everyone’s rotation, now Dillon Peters and his whopping five starts is poised to have a strangle hold on one himself. Anthony Alford was completely written off, hey I did too, now he’s back up, still striking out at an alarming rate but when he does connect the ball is going a long way, so of course it stands to reason he’s back in the picture for many.

The point is, chill.

Last night, the mere suggestion that Dillon Peters still has much to prove with the remainder of 2021 and Spring Training sent some folks into a complete tizzy that I’d have to be blind to not see he’s better than Keller or Brubaker who both stink and won’t be back. Literally.

What Dillon Peters has done since coming to Pittsburgh has been encouraging to say the least, he doesn’t have wipeout stuff, instead relying on a really good changeup and pinpoint control. He can be successful, certainly, but let’s make sure we’re being honest with ourselves here too, this isn’t an easy path. He doesn’t have the kind of stuff that allows him to have an off night with release point.

He doesn’t have one of those curveballs that is going to get swings if he misses his spot. No, what he can be depends almost entirely on how consistently he can reach that point in his game where 80% of his pitches go where he wants them to go.

Again, he can do this, but for every control artist there are 5 guys with stuff waiting to step in.

This isn’t about slapping down guys I don’t believe in, it’s not about building up guys I think are better, it’s more about keeping an open mind.

When you enter an off season with zero committed dollars, it stands to reason you’re not exactly ‘built’. I mean, that’s hardly a controversial statement right?

There are open spots everywhere, yet somehow there aren’t.

Take Kevin Newman, all in all, pretty bad season with the bat, excellent season with the glove. Finally got the bat going enough to creep into positive WAR status and let’s be honest, he isn’t getting pushed aside for Tucker or Park. So is the position open? Well, sure, but let’s just say it’ll take some doing. At the very least more doing than most seem to think.

What about Mitch Keller? He’s stunk out loud this year, surely he’s out next year! I mean, probably not. There comes a point where you have to trust evaluation and maybe more importantly, trust that you’ve given the best coaching, and opportunity to fairly do so. For all the couch experts that whole process probably took fewer than 3 starts this year, for an actual baseball franchise, yeah, not so quick.

You have to understand, if this team was in a position where they’re trying to onboard a youngster to go along with four other well established starters and fighting for a playoff spot, yes, Mitch is done and in AAA ‘learning’ right now. That said, they probably aren’t on their 39th arm of the season either.

We constantly preach about small sample size and the dangers of player evaluation based on it, but it applies for good or bad. I mean, is Ke’Bryan Hayes Ted Williams reincarnate or a guy who is a 3 WAR player even if he doesn’t hit because of his glove? Reality, somewhere in the middle is likely and over time that’ll even out. He’ll push back against the push back and we’ll start to see what he really is, but if some of those couch scouts were the GM he’d be signed to a Tatis deal right now.

There are far more reasons to practice patience at this stage than the obvious. It’s certainly not because patience will eventually lead to all of these guys turning out, but it is in many ways about not waiting 4 or 5 years to give a guy a shot only to turn around and pretend 3 weeks or 5 starts was enough to make your final call.

It’s also not about constantly quoting that this or that guy can’t get past the 5th when organizationally the Pirates have done everything short of spray painting it in red on the River Walk that this is how they want to handle the staff. Want to have that argument? I’m happy to, I just brought up my displeasure in the Five Thoughts piece on Monday. That said, it’s like blaming Najee Harris for not getting more rushing yards and ignoring he didn’t call the plays and the offensive line wasn’t exactly blowing people off the ball.

Youth requires time. It’s a simple formula that baseball largely follows. As with most formulas, there are of course variables and special players who break the mold. Fact is, it’s just not the norm.

It’s ugly sometimes, but necessary. I think I wrote for the first time back in 2019 if you need to look away and come back later, I completely get it, but just because you don’t want to know how the sewage plant works, doesn’t mean you’ll refuse the clean water at the end of the process.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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